Plans for affordable homes in Stakeford given green light despite residents' objections

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Proposals to build 32 affordable homes in Stakeford have been approved despite concerns raised by local residents.

Opponents feared the new houses, set to be built by Bernica Homes on land south of Stakeford Crescent, could put too much pressure on the existing road network.

However, council officers said ‘robust’ investigations had been carried out and found there was no evidence to suggest this would be the case.

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The proposals were recommended for approval by planners. However, at Monday’s meeting of the Castle Morpeth Local Area Planning Committee, councillors initially voted on a motion to refuse the plans before agreeing to give them the green light.

The affordable homes will be built on land south of Stakeford Crescent in Stakeford. Photo: Google Streetview.The affordable homes will be built on land south of Stakeford Crescent in Stakeford. Photo: Google Streetview.
The affordable homes will be built on land south of Stakeford Crescent in Stakeford. Photo: Google Streetview.

The proposals had received 40 objections from members of the public living nearby, with just one comment in support.

Local residents Craig Stewart and Lesley Allsop outlined residents’ objections.

Mr Stewart was unhappy that the site had been cleared without planning permission, adding: “We weren’t consulted on this. It feels like the plans have already been given the go-ahead."

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Ms Allsop said she was ‘very concerned’ about the increased volume of traffic both during the construction phase and when the new residents moved in.

She added: “We are a family of four and we have four cars and I have already had two cars written off there.

“Highways safety is a major, major impact. I know there’s lots of people who have been damaged in some way shape or form, even if it’s just a mirror being knocked off.”

On behalf of the applicant, planning agent Alastair Willis of Lichfields said: “A large amount of historic housing stock has been lost through right to buy reducing the amount of affordable housing available to local families.

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“The number of bids received per property significantly exceeds supply. There is an unquestionable need for further affordable housing.”

Mr Willis said that there were at least 20 bids per house in Northumberland, while in Stakeford there was up to 70 on three-bedroom homes. He added: The need is increasing year on year.

“That can only be met by specific affordable housing developments like this one.”

Despite this, Cllr Mary Murphy proposed refusal. She said: “I don’t think it is an appropriate access point for such a development.

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“It’s a great idea on paper, but to quote Brian Clough, it’s not played on paper it is played on grass. The difference between the statistics in the document and driving down that road and seeing the narrowness of it and the bends – I have been today and I can’t see it working.”

But Cllr Richard Dodd feared the county council would be left with the bill for an appeal if the application was refused.

He said: “There was an application in New Hartley that the local ward member didn’t like and got turned down. It lost the council half a million pounds.

“It’s a lot of money. We listen very carefully to what people have to say, three councillors have questioned the highways officer and he has said it is acceptable.

“If we turn this down, we’re going to get creamed by the planning inspectorate again. I can’t support refusal.”

A motion to approve the plans was passed by five votes to two, with two abstentions.

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